LANSING – The Covid-19 pandemic has made libraries re-think their whole approach to community engagement and how they provide services to their patrons.
Covid-19 has the ability to easily spread on surfaces and through the air. This has raised major problems for many public services, especially a service like the library where the physical aspect of going and picking out a book or using a computer has become nearly impossible while trying to keep everyone safe.
The Capital Area District Libraries are only available for curbside pick-up and limited computer use because of health and safety concerns for not only the staff, but the communities that the libraries serve.
“When books return they quarantine for 96 hours,” said Jill Abood, a community engagement specialist for the Capital Area District Libraries.
This is an example of one of the safety measures put in place by the library so it can still provide its service and keep the community safe.
Andy Bourgeois, public service head at Capital Area District Libraries, has been working hard with his colleagues to make sure the library is still offering as many services as possible.
“One of the biggest challenges has been technology,” Bourgeois said. “It’s hard for a lot of people because the library is their main technology resource.”
The library has been adding more technology to its collection but has faced supply shortages and budget cuts.
“We have added Chromebooks that you can check out and use in your car along with more mobile hotspots,” Bourgeois said.
In addition, the library has also set there printers up so that anyone who needs to print something can, all they need is a device that can connect to the internet.
One of the big projects for the library recently was working to set up Tutor.com, a website that offers free tutoring services for library card holders.
This is usually a job for Michigan State students but with the pandemic the libraries had to make a change to still offer this crucial service.
Tutor.com is a resource offered through the libraries website that allows library card holders to interact with a free live tutor from 2-9 everyday of the week. The service is for all grade levels including college courses, all you need is a library card to sign up.
One of the bright spots for Bourgeois has been the fact that since many of the library events and group meetings have been moved online, it allows for more people to be able to participate without worrying about time or travel.
One of the most popular events has been trivia night, which have been so popular that the library may even continue them post pandemic but with less frequency.
“People are extremely grateful and have been very understanding about our limitations,” Abood said.
For more information on their specific policies and procedures visit the Capital Area District Libraries website.